129 weeks and 5 days | Cherish the Ordinary

This weekend something happened.

One of my school friends — a girl who had been one of my very best friends in the 6th form — died.

42 years old. Vibrant, funny, beautiful. A wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend.

Gone. Just like that.

She’d been bravely battling cancer for months; I found out in January and she told me she’d been undergoing treatment since October last year. We haven’t seen each other for years but always kept in touch and messaged occasionally over Facebook and with written letters and cards. Particularly over these last few months.

Words of positivity and hope (her) and encouragement and support (me).

It’s so dreadfully sad. I cried buckets on Friday night; for her, her husband, her children.

Cherish the ordinary.

This is the second, relatively young, person I know to have lost their lives to cancer this year. Their journeys were totally different but the outcomes, tragically, the same.

Another similarity I noted was that, once these two people found out about their illnesses, nothing was the same from that point on and their decline was relatively rapid.

‘Normal’ life went out the window and was replaced by an ominous merry-go-round of tests, consultant’s appointments, days in hospital, weeks in a hospice.

And it struck me that our lives can change, literally, in a heartbeat. Something may happen to spin us off the path we’re treading and our lives can alter dramatically. I’m not just talking about illness but a change in circumstance; redundancy, divorce — war even.

cherish the ordinary

Ordinary life is something to be cherished and revered.

Simple everyday things — walking to post a letter, the big supermarket shop, cleaning, mowing the lawn, fixing a picture frame — may seem mundane but, no doubt, if the ability to do those things was taken away we’d give anything to have it all back.

Exactly as it once was.

There are so many folk striving for something better, something different — extraordinary even. Thrill seekers, adventurers, people who are just not content with their lot and are tempted by the mirage of lush, green grass on the other side.

And, in their determination to alter their lives, they may be missing out on some of the most perfect, beautiful moments. Ordinary doesn’t necessarily mean boring. Ordinary can be the most amazing times of our lives.

‘Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.’

 

William Martin

In memory of my beautiful friend Jenni Brindley-Pye who sadly passed away on Friday. Rest in peace lovely girl. You may have gone but you’ll never be forgotten.

 

138 thoughts on “129 weeks and 5 days | Cherish the Ordinary”

  1. Thanks for sharing this post on Jenni’s Facebook wall. My name is Helen (Jenni called me Hch) and she was one of my closest friends, probably the closest, from the age of 16 to 23, when I moved away to Bath to work as a journalist, then Hong Kong, where I now live. Sadly, we lost touch and I last saw Jenni in 2012 on a trip back to the UK. I really regret not making the time to see her when I went back to UK in April. I knew Jen was ill but had no idea it was so serious. I emailed her to tell her I was pregnant and moving back to the UK mid-August, and she congratulated me. That was the last I heard from Jen. I wrote her a letter, which her family was reading to her, just before she passed. It was mostly about all the fun we had – boozy trips to Greece, nights out at Ritzy in newcastle drinking snakebite and black with our friends Rob and Rob, and a working holiday in Cornwall when we had to return early after we broke the car window! Jenni broke the heart of many of bloke along the way! I feel privileged to have had my letter read out, even though it’s slightly embarrassing as her family was there(!). Your blog also struck a chord with me as, like you, I went through ivf after 3 years of trying and now have a beautiful son with another baby on the way in February. Congratulations on your twins, they are beautiful! & congrats on your fab blog, too. I will be raising a glass to Jenni today at 1.30 for her funeral as I sadly can’t be there living so far away x

  2. Ohmygoodness H — I remember Jen speaking about you!! I’m so sorry you didn’t get to spend more time with her at the end. It’s so, so sad isn’t it?
    I am angry with myself for not going to see her too — but she really toned down how ill she was. She was always SO positive that I genuinely thought she was going to get better. It didn’t occur to me for a single second that she wasn’t going to pull through. I cannot believe she’s gone.

    I feel really weird about it all. She was one of my very best friends in 6th form — and afterwards — until I went to uni when I was 22. I simply can’t believe that my beautiful funny friend is no longer around.

    I was all set to go to the funeral today but one of the twins is poorly. I’ll be raising a glass to her today too and she — and her family — will be in my thoughts.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to write to me. Please keep in touch and let me know when your new addition arrives. Good luck with everything xx

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